Monday, May 5, 2014
Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake
Everyone loves quinoa, right? Wrong.
For a very long time I regarded quinoa with a healthy dose of disdain, and believed that its only purpose on this earth was to be health food, not delicious, desirable food.
Then, one day last month I was wandering around DC on an unseasonably frigid day trying to find some lunch, and on a whim I ordered a bowl of turkey chili served atop quinoa from a place near my office. It was shockingly delicious, so I acquiesced and said something that I rarely admit: I was wrong. Quinoa is delicious as long as it's mixed with with stuff like chili, or in this case, tomato sauce, basil, and loads of cheese.
I made this for lunch yesterday, and it was so good we already added it to the dinner menu for this week. It's fast, easy, and fairly healthy - everything I look for in a weeknight dinner.
I served this as a main course, but I think it would make a great side dish to some grilled chicken breasts. If you want to bulk it up with some meat, I bet cooked Italian sausage would be a great addition (add it in when mixing up the sauce!)
For my fellow quinoa skeptics out there, give this recipe a chance. For non-quinoa skeptics, well, you were right. Gloat away.
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup pasta sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided (I used reduced-fat, and this still tasted great)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (leave a few intact to top the quinoa with)
6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced into ribbons, plus extra for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray, and set aside.
Combine the pasta sauce and tomato paste in a saucepan over low heat, and cook until warm. Add in the half and half, parmesan, half the mozzarella, and seasonings, and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and mix in the halved tomatoes, sliced basil leaves, and cooked quinoa.
Pour the quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish, top with the remaining mozzarella and the intact grape tomatoes. Bake for 10-15 minutes, then turn the broiler on and broil for 1-2 minutes until the cheese starts to brown and the grape tomatoes shrivel.
Garnish with fresh basil before serving.
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side.
Source: Adapted from Half Baked Harvest, who was originally inspired by How Sweet Eats